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Industrial Park Series: Business Parks Helped Revitalize Northeastern PA

01.31.2019

 

INDUSTRIAL PARK SERIES

PRESENTED BY THE TIMES LEADER & PENN'S NORTHEAST

January 31, 2019


 

 

Northeastern Pennsylvania is comprised of seven counties

with a total population of 1,028,926.

 

The region’s urban center is the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton

Metropolitan Statistical Area, with a population of 558,166.


Wico van Genderen: Business parks helped revitalize region

Our Greater Wilkes-Barre’s business parks are key drivers integral to the area’s economy — attracting a diversity of businesses, creating thousands of jobs, and powering NEPA’s future.

 

The industrial parks include:

 

Today, the business parks are fundamental components of our local economic engine, but they were born more than 50 years ago out of a regional economic crisis.

 

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s economy had been left in tatters by the dramatic downfall of the anthracite mining industry that had traditionally dominated the health, wealth and well-being of the region. In its wake, we not only hemorrhaged more than 100,000 jobs, but we were left with a scarred landscape of closed mining operations, slag heaps and an economy too weak to attract investors to invest in an area that needed significant mitigation, imagination, foresight and TLC.

 

Concerted effort

And so began a concerted effort by local business and community leaders to reclaim, redevelop and re-purpose mine-scarred land, bringing it back to productive use. The initial focus was to leverage our existing transportation infrastructure – the region’s strong rail and highway networks – to attract traditional smokestack industries. This was followed by the difficult task of reclaiming abandoned mines and brownfield sites, bringing them back into the area economy.

 

As NEPA’s logistical and supply chain advantages became apparent, those value propositions were leveraged with our core assets of a labor force renowned for its productivity and talent pipeline, superb proximity and access to major markets and populations, world class supply chain and energy, affordability in low cost of living/low cost of doing business, and great quality of life in a quality location.

 

Those attributes allowed us to re-create and re-invent the area as it again became attractive to new industry segments, a diversity of businesses and new jobs.

 

Diverse companies

Today our industrial parks are home to 400 diverse world-class companies such as On Semiconductor (semi-conductor manufacturing), CCL Tubes (plastic tubes), Cornell Ironworks (steel rolling doors), i2M (calendaring/lamination of paper and polymer), Medico Industries (metal manufacturing), Intermetro Industries Corporation (wire shelving, material and storage), Trion Industries (merchandising solutions), Fabri-Kal (packaging products), Hydro (aluminum extrusions), Itoh Denki (material handling equipment) and Bridon American (wire and wire rope).

 

Nationally recognized medical equipment and suppliers like Benco Dental, CVS/Caremark, Luzerne Optical and Pride Mobility are residents in the area.

 

We are also home to an array of internationally known food and beverage manufacturing plants and distribution operations, such as Quaker Oats, Gatorade, Mission Foods, Nardone Brothers, Nature’s Way, PepsiCo, Hershey, Coremark, Bimbo Bakeries and Mondelez.

 

Many major logistics providers, rail freight carriers and truckload firms, such as Calex Logistics, Valley Distributing, Innovel Solutions and ABF Freight, service the area.

 

And, the parks also accommodate modern office space housing companies such as Borton Lawson (engineering), Navient (student loan servicing), Genpact (digital transformation services), Geisinger (health care), Mericle (commercial real estate and development) and the US Social Security Administration (Federal government services).

 

Today, what was once undeveloped or mine-scarred land is now home to office, retail and industrial parks holding close to 15,000 jobs and more than 13 million square feet of space. In terms of property taxes alone, the 400-plus firms in Greater Wilkes-Barre’s business parks generate more than $15 million each year for our county, townships, and local school districts.

 

More to come

There’s more to come as this growth is far from static. The new Chewy.com fulfillment center is already expanding to a million square feet, employing more than 1,200 people. Nearby, Patagonia and Adidas are adding another 1,000 jobs with their respective distribution centers.

 

Colours just opened a world-class headquarters facility in Hanover Township, and American Paper Bag just opened in Hanover Industrial Estates. And we are diligently working on another 1,500 jobs with the development of an additional two million square feet of business space coming on line soon.

 

Our value proposition in proximity, supply chain, financials, and land makes our area a clear winner for developers to build new industrial sites, attracting even more commerce to add to the diverse businesses already attracted to our community.

 

Strong local developers

Strong local developers, led by Mericle Commercial Development, North Point Development, and Tambur/TFP Limited, continue to make key strategic investments, making our region attractive to businesses spanning multiple industries.

 

For example, North Point Development’s Hanover 9 site in Nanticoke and Hanover Township is planned to add 2.3 million square feet of business space. At full build-out, this development will create more than 1,500 jobs with an average salary of $41,000 plus benefits, generating more than $62 million in annual wages. And with capital investments north of $150 million and another $53 million in tenant capital investment, the total capital investment contribution is over $200 million.

 

Success breeds success

The coalition and collaboration between academia, business, and community in the Wyoming Valley are truly transformative. Through partnerships with our academic, business, and community leaders, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry is making its own transformation: from a developer of bricks and mortar, to a developer of innovation incubation and “enabling technology” processes. We are jumping the curve by looking at a business as an economic life-cycle connected together as an economic ecosystem.

 

While still “3 years new” and growing, this economic development ecosystem, called Wilkes Barre Connect, is taking the Chamber in new directions, We are now executing full throttle on five specific initiatives: Pitch, Spotlight, 101, Intern, and Honor.

 

  • Pitch is our version of Shark Tank, linking entrepreneurs with the investment community.
  • Spotlight is our local version of the famous TED Talks, while 101 provides business basics, videos and pod-casts to get experts and mentors coaching young professionals and entrepreneurs on how to turn their ideas into operational businesses.
  • Intern links our college students to the business community to provide a bridge to keeping our best and brightest in the area.
  • Honor channels our large Veteran population to leverage their military training into the entrepreneurial business community.

 

Finally, through its intake process, Wilkes-Barre Connect serves to “connect” businesses into the economic ecosystem — no matter where they are in the business life cycle – to help maximize our community’s economic diversity, sustainability, and success. It’s a big reason why the Wilkes-Barre region is good for business, good for growth, and a solid investment for the future.

 

Workforce main challenge

For 2019, we see workforce as the primary challenge — getting access to the right talent, setting the dialogue, and building for growth and sustainability.

 

The Chamber’s new Wilkes Barre CONNECT “Park Website Initiative” will deliver new websites for each park with a forward-facing approach to educate and promote businesses within the park. The new sites will include a tenant portal to provide businesses with an on-demand platform that will provide access to a variety of solutions to issues as varied as workforce, internships, academic/industry partnerships, public funding initiatives, and networking. The idea is to attract and retain businesses through technology, providing new tools that map the virtual economic landscape to the physical.

 

We don’t stand alone, this is a collaborative journey of academic, business and community leadership.

 

For example, Mericle has leveraged their deep area knowledge to create Discover NEPA, whose mission is to recruit talented individuals to the region, promote quality of life assets and communities, encourage Northeastern PA’s best and brightest to stay here, and assist local non-profits by cultivating awareness.

 

The Institute of Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University provides data driven analytics and research to our community to improve the quality of life and standard of living; exemplified by their recent “Talent Report -Turning Information into Insight.”

 

And, Penn’s Northeast, our region’s economic development marketing organization, uses its own technology-enabling tools to attract and retain business and promote economic development.

 

In our search for skilled workers, it is clear that many — especially millennials — are drawn to those areas with strong community bonds and diverse networks grounded in social/environmental foundations. We have these values on our door step and these initiatives work on highlighting them and building upon them.

 

For more information, please visit our Chamber website at www.wilkes-barre.org, The WB Connect website at www.wilkesbarreconnect.org, Discover NEPA at www.discoverNEPA.com, The Institute at Wilkes University at www.institutepa.org or Penn’s Northeast at www.pennsnortheast.com.

 

Industrial parks vital

Greater Wilkes-Barre’s industrial parks are vital to our economic, workforce and business ecosystem. We are building for growth and sustainability, one new business and one new job at a time.

 

The secret to success is found in collaboration — and the success of regional economic development is rooted in partnership. Together we are defining our future by actively shaping its outcome.

 

As JFK once said, “A rising tide lifts all the boats.” The area has seen some stormy seas in its past, but remember: you make your best sea captains in a storm.

 

Our history and experience is what enables us to now chart a new course, whether through calm or stormy seas, that places our best days ahead of us.


Let Penn’s Northeast be your easy button

for economic development in Northeastern PA!

 

Visit www.pennsnortheast.com to see how we can help your company.

 

 

Read the January 30th Edition of the Industrial Park Series HERE!

 


 

The Industrial Park Series

September Edition

The Industrial Park Series

​October Edition ​

The Industrial Park Series

January 10th Edition

 


https://www.timesleader.com/category/industrial-park-series

https://www.timesleader.com/industrial-park-series/732004/wico-van-genderen-business-parks-helped-revitalize-region

Written By Wico van Genderen - wico.vangenderen@wilkes-barre.org

​Wico Van Genderen is President/Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce.



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